AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on September 15, 2023
6 min read

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient addiction rehab is the level of care.

Inpatient rehab provides higher care, as people live at the treatment facility and receive around-the-clock supervision. Outpatient rehab allows people to live at home while attending daily treatments.

What is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient addiction rehab is a type of residential treatment that requires someone to stay at a facility for an extended period. This timeframe can be anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the addiction’s severity and the individual’s needs.

Here’s what you can expect from an inpatient rehab treatment program:

  • Typically more intensive than outpatient treatment
  • It allows people to focus solely on their recovery without the distractions of everyday life
  • Provides 24-hour care and supervision
  • Beneficial for those struggling with adjusting to a sober life

The length of stay in an inpatient facility will vary depending on the person’s needs. Some people may need to stay for just a few weeks, while others may require several months of treatment.

What to Expect in Inpatient Rehab

In inpatient addiction rehab, you can expect:

  • Detoxification: Detoxification is when you remove all traces of alcohol from your body. It is a crucial step in addiction recovery that can help individuals get better and prepare for treatment.
  • Therapy: Inpatient rehab centers offer individual therapy sessions with an addiction specialist or certified mental health counselor. These sessions address underlying issues contributing to addiction.
  • Group Support: Group sessions with other individuals in recovery allow members to support each other and share their experiences.
  • Aftercare: After inpatient rehab, ongoing support and resources are available. This phase may include follow-up therapy, support groups, and access to other community resources.

Who is a Good Candidate for Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient rehab is best for:

  • Those with severe addiction and haven’t been able to quit on their own successfully
  • People who have relapsed after previous attempts at quitting
  • Those who have underlying mental health disorders may also benefit from inpatient rehab

There are many factors to consider when determining if inpatient addiction rehab is the best option for you or your loved one. These include:

  • The severity of the addiction
  • Any underlying mental health disorders
  • Any history of relapse

Pros of Inpatient Rehab

These are the advantages of inpatient rehab:

  • Provides around-the-clock care and supervision, which can benefit people struggling with severe addiction or with high relapse risk
  • Helpful for people who need medical detoxification
  • Provides medical care and management to detox from drugs and alcohol safely
  • It benefits people who need more structure and support than outpatient programs

Cons of Inpatient Rehab

These are the disadvantages of inpatient rehab:

  • Often expensive, costing thousands of dollars per month
  • It can be disruptive to your life
  • Requires uprooting yourself to live in a treatment facility for an extended period
  • It can take you away from your family and job for a time

Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

online consultation

What is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient addiction rehab offers many of the same treatment methods and therapies as inpatient rehab but on a less intensive level. People in outpatient programs typically live at home and attend treatment during the day or evening hours.

This type of care is for people with a solid support system at home. They must be highly motivated to recover. Some have already completed a more intensive treatment program.

Outpatient rehab treatment typically includes individual therapy, group therapy, and 12-step meetings. Treatment focuses on helping the person develop healthy coping skills and avoid triggers that could lead to relapse.

What to Expect in Outpatient Rehab

If you’re considering outpatient rehab, here are some things you can expect:

  • Focus on recovery goals: After establishing goals, professionals will tailor treatment plans to help you reach them.
  • Access to addiction professionals: Even if you don’t stay in a rehab facility, you can still access addiction professionals who provide therapy and support.
  • Flexibility: You can continue to live your life while in recovery. Outpatient rehab allows you to work, take care of family obligations, and spend time with friends while receiving treatment.
  • Step-down from inpatient care: Outpatient rehab may be a good option for those who have completed inpatient care but need additional support.

Who is a Good Candidate for Outpatient Rehab?

Many different people struggling with addiction benefit from an outpatient treatment program. If you have a sound support system and are motivated to stay sober, outpatient care may be best for you.

However, certain factors may make someone a better candidate for outpatient treatment, including:

  • Having a less severe addiction
  • Having a solid support system
  • Being highly motivated to stay sober
  • Being able to attend regular therapy sessions and meetings
  • Having difficulty affording an inpatient program
  • Lacking the ability to focus on structured treatment 24-7

Pros of Outpatient Rehab

These are the advantages of outpatient rehab:

  • A flexible type of treatment
  • More affordable for most people
  • People can continue to live at home and go to work or school while attending treatment

Cons of Outpatient Rehab

These are the disadvantages of outpatient rehab:

  • It can be more challenging than inpatient care
  • People need to be highly motivated to succeed
  • There is a greater risk of relapse
  • People don’t receive the structure and support that an inpatient program provides

Costs of Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics states that the least expensive inpatient rehab is $6,000 monthly. The cheapest outpatient program is $5,000 for three months.1

Inpatient rehab generally costs more than outpatient rehab, although the exact amount depends on factors such as: 

Length of Stay

Staying at a facility for a longer time means higher costs because of the cost of food, housing, and other amenities.

Location of the Facility

The location of a facility also affects its cost. For example, facilities in urban areas tend to be more expensive than those in rural areas.

Type of Treatment Offered

Services such as individual and group therapy sessions may incur additional costs. Facilities may need to hire extra professionals to provide these services.


BetterHelp can Help

They’ll connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Better Help Logo

Is Rehab Effective?

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs effectively treat drug or alcohol addiction. The right one for you depends on your addiction and your specific circumstances. 

Effectiveness of Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient addiction rehab is effective for people struggling with addiction. It provides a safe and structured environment for people to detox from drugs and alcohol. This higher level of care can benefit people struggling with a more severe addiction.

Effectiveness of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient addiction rehab can be an effective treatment option for those struggling with substance use who can’t commit to inpatient treatment.


Thinking about Getting Help?

BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Better Help Logo


While rehab isn’t a cure, it can help individuals to abstain from drug use and live healthy, productive lives. There are many different types of programs, so finding one right for you is essential. If you’re considering addiction rehab, speak with your doctor or a treatment professional first.

Updated on September 15, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on September 15, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
© 2024 by Treatment Pathway LLC. All rights reserved.
Back to top icon
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram